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Throughout the research process, your search strategy will change as your information objectives change.
Early on in the research process,KEYWORD SEARCHINGcan allow you to discover the variety of sources available to you and the scope of the topic you're exploring.
Once you've defined a research question, SUBJECT SEARCHING can lead you to collections of resources in databases and library catalogs that are grouped by the subject they address.
And after you have found and selected resources you would like to explore more deeply, CITATION SEARCHING will allow you to track down the original sources of information used by the researchers you've chosen to work with.
Photo: Paget, Sidney, illus. "The Second Stain." The Return of Sherlock Holmes. By Arthur Conan Doyle, 1859-1930. New Impression. London: John Murray, 1918. 392.
Brainstorm alternate spellings, related terms, broader terms, or narrower terms.
Identify the subject area or areas which your topic might fall under.
Test your search
Start testing out your keywords or phrases in the databases you've identified as relevant to your subject area. Much like driving a car, while each database may look slightly different, the underlying functionality (what's under the hood) is much the same.
If you don't come up with what you're looking for right away, start plugging in some of the alternate terms you selected. You can also use the following tricks to refine your search.
Phrase searching: "flea collar"
Boolean AND: dog* AND flea*
Boolean OR: dog* OR cat*
Boolean NOT: dog* NOT cat*
Complex searches: (dog* OR cat*)AND flea*
Refine your search
Once you find a book or article that is on target, use it to help further refine your search, or to locate potential new sources.
Use the Subject lines in records to link to other books or articles on the same subject.
Some databases, such as Scopus, provide for searches by Citation.